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Guidance for a Safe, Fun Halloween

Guidance for a Safe, Fun Halloween

As leaves begin changing color and mornings become chillier in our region, we’re reminded of many fall traditions. One of the most popular, especially among children, is Halloween.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming flu season are leaving some unanswered questions on how to safely hold trick-or-treat, trunk-or-treat, parties, and other functions. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a set of guidelines to ensure a fun, but safe Halloween.

Costume recommendations:

  • Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. This can become dangerous if both masks make it difficult to breathe. Instead, try a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Halloween Events:

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) discourages large gatherings of individuals for Halloween parties, haunted houses and other events. Haunted houses and similar attractions involve people in small spaces where social distancing may not be possible. Screaming increases the production of respiratory droplets, which can carry COVID-19. For entertainment and public amusement settings, Virginia’s Phase 3 Guidelines recommend event organizers:

  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever, COVID-19 symptoms, a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, or known exposure to COVID-19 in the past 14 days may enter.
  • Patrons must wear a cloth face covering while indoors.
  • Occupancy cannot exceed 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if available, or 1,000 patrons.
  • All private bookings are limited to no more than 250 people.
  • Allow ample space between groups touring the haunted house/attraction.
  • Assure actors maintain 10 feet of distancing between participants.
  • Do not decorate with materials/items that will hang in front of or touch a person’s face.

Hosting a Gathering:

There are ways you can safely hold a smaller Halloween event and still have fun! The CDC says:

  • Host outdoor gatherings rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
  • Limit numbers of attendees.
  • Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines in place.
  • Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies (masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.) to help you and others stay healthy.

Trick-or-treat or Trunk-or-treat:

Traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treat and trunk-or-treat are both classified as “high risk activities” in the CDC’s report. If you do take part in these activities, the VDH suggests these tips to ensure a safe experience:

  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others who do not live in your household at all times.
  • Wash your hands before going trick-or-treating or handing out candy. Hand sanitizer should be used while trick-or-treating or handing out candy when soap and water aren’t available.
  • If you hand out candy, consider setting up an area outside, like a folding table or chairs, to set out candy. Space out the placement of treats so that multiple people do not have to reach into the same bowl or find contactless ways to deliver treats. One fun idea is to make a candy chute!
  • For trunk-or-treating, create distance between cars by parking in every other space.

If you don’t feel comfortable going trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating this year, the CDC has provided a list of recommended, safer activities:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space.
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to find.
  • Walk by homes and businesses outdoors admiring Halloween decorations from a distance.

Of course, the three W’s still apply while enjoying Halloween among other people: Wash your hands, Wear your mask, Watch your distance (6 feet from others). Remember, it is crucial to self-quarantine if you have been diagnosed or exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for at least 14 days.